If you’ve ever wanted to start sewing, but have been daunted by all there is to know or somehow hesitated starting your first project — this article is for you! Sewing is the perfect way to combat the January blues, and to kickstart your creativity in the new year. The most important thing with sewing is not to make perfect projects, but to have fun doing it. Sometimes just having the right materials and choosing beginner approved projects makes all the difference – start off easy and celebrate your success! With these ten tips, we guarantee a smooth sewing start for you.
With these 10 tips you can avoid frustrating situations and beginner mistakes:
- Choose the right sewing machine for you:
As with anything, having the right equipment makes all the difference. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive sewing machine; in fact if you are just starting, it makes more sense to start with a simpler version, so as not to be overwhelmed by many different functions. For most projects, you will only need two kinds of seams – straight and zig zag. If you have a friend who sews, ask if you can borrow theirs, if she or he can show you how to use it. If you can a sewing cafe in your neighborhood, test out your skills there first; and if you are going to buy a machine, make sure to get the salesperson to give you a lesson on how to use it.
- Set yourself up for success:
Start with a project that you can finish quickly – this will give you a feeling of success, and should motivate you to keep on sewing with your next projects. Our tips for easy projects: bags, beauty cases, drawstring backpacks, pillowcases or loop scarf (snood). These are projects that don’t need to ‘fit’ properly (in contrast with garment pieces); and where it’s mostly just sewing straight lines, with little finishing of edges.
- Use the right fabrics
When choosing fabric for your first few projects – the magic word is cotton. Cotton is a woven fabric, with a stable structure that doesn’t pull or roll at the edges. Thanks to these properties, it glides through the feed in the sewing machine. With viscose or jersey/ knit fabrics, these are more difficult to control when feeding through the machine and can pull or even rip with a straight seam. These are magic fabrics too – but for different reasons. Try your hand at a few beginner projects with cotton first, before moving on to elastic materials.
- Test your settings and your fabric:
- Invest a few cents more for a better quality thread
Yes, it may sound silly, but there are big differences in thread qualities : I urge you to consider investing just a little bit more in a better thread, to avoid frustrating situations like having the thread rip, and having to continually re-thread your machine – wasted time! Another tip to avoid this, test different thread tensions on your machine, to arrive at the correct setting for your thread and your fabric.
- Not all scissors are created equal:
Perhaps even worse than having to constantly re-thread your machine because your thread keeps breaking, is the experience of cutting fabric with dull scissors. Remember back to your childhood, trying to do crafts with dull children’s scissors? It’s a pretty similar experience. In this case, not only is the cutting out of your fabric frustrating and bothersome, but it will make the edges rougher, making the step of edge finishing more difficult as well. Therefore – invest in fabric scissors – and use them only for cutting fabric. My tip – mark them somehow by tying on a ribbon or adding a piece of washi tape to the handle, which means ‘hands off’ for cutting paper.
- Fake it til you make or; or use a lot of pins:
Whether using wonderclips or pins to hold your pattern pieces together, this is something I call absolutely necessary for beginners. They prevent the layers of fabric from pulling apart, and make it easier to sew a constant straight seam. As you get more comfortable, you can increase the distance between the pins, but at the start just use a lot.
- Like it or not; ironing makes a huge difference:
Ok – anyone who knows me, knows I am not the classic homemaker who irons all my husbands shirts. But when sewing, ironing often kann make such a big difference in how easy it is to sew the pattern pieces together. Take the time to iron your seams apart, to iron seams flat, or generally iron wrinkled fabric. Trust me – it makes a difference! Good pattern instructions will let you know when to iron- follow them!
Invest in a seam ripper:
I wish only the best for you, that all your projects turn out as planned on the first try. My experience has sadly been that that is not the case, and with some of my first projects, I’ve spent a lot of useless time trying to cut into the seams with normal scissors. That takes forever, and is even more demotivating, because you’re already working backwards. I only wish I had invested in a seam ripper immediately :))
Happy sewing- and may you not need to use it!
Do you have another tip you want to share with the community? Please share it here in the comments or on Instagram with Hashtag #makeristtip, so we can find it and share!
Best of luck mastering your next project, Amber